A fresh new voice emerges with the arrival of Sour Heart, establishing Jenny Zhang as a frank and subversive interpreter of the immigrant experience in America. Her stories cut across generations and continents, moving from the fraught halls of a public school in Flushing, Queens, to the tumultuous streets of Shanghai, China, during the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
Narrated by the daughters of Chinese immigrants who fled imperiled lives as artists back home only to struggle to stay afloat—these eight stories showcase Zhang’s compassion, moral courage, and a perverse sense of humor. A darkly funny and intimate rendering of girlhood, Sour Heart examines what it means to belong to a family, to find your home, leave it, reject it, and return again.
“In interviews, Zhang has spoken about how certain immigrant experiences are central to her collection: the constrictive intimacy within families that can’t be understood by outsiders & the way that bind is corroded, helpfully & terribly, by an upwardly mobile American life, stating ‘it’s very Western to idealize a kind of love that does not come with any expectations, that still permits both the giver & recipient to be completely free’,” — Jia Tolentino, in The New Yorker